After lunch today, Harmony, my chocolate lab, and I drove over to a nearby park – one with a long, winding pathway around a lake. The lake is rather odd shaped with little secluded fingers of water that twist and curve so as to create beautiful little private pools brimming with ducks and other birds. At certain spots, there are isolated benches where one can sit and rest and enjoy nature.
Midway through our walk, Harmony and I took a few minutes to relax at one of these out-of-the-way benches. Although the bench was shaded, the early afternoon sun broke through upon us via uneven intervals between the tree branches. The water just a few feet away glistened in the sunlight. In the distance we could hear the sounds of ducks and geese calling out. As I sat there in silence taking in all of this sensory experience, it appeared that Harmony was during the same. She stood unmoving and quiet save for a slight panting. She appeared to the gazing out over the water and enjoying the moment. I know I was.
This was a very good moment. Something inside me wanted to grab hold of the experience and stuff it in a bottle so that I could pull it out and savor it whenever I desired. A small part of me was saddened by the realization that this moment like all other moments were fleeting and transitory. I thought back upon my life – how it was filled with so many wonderful moments just like this one – and with that realization of wave of nostalgia flooded over me. Each moment is so precious. It is in each moment that we live our lives.
Robert C. Mesle, in describing the work of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, wrote that “everything is in process, becoming and perishing. But what kind of reality can be, and perish? Events. The smallest events are momentary drops of experience or feeling. These are the building blocks of reality. Your mind, your flow of awareness, for example, is a series of such events.”
To Whitehead, these drops of experience were “actual entities” which are the ultimate real things of which the world is made up. The whole universe is one gigantic network of these events. He says that our personal experience does not occur “in” our minds but that rather our minds simply are in this flow of experience. Moment by moment by moment we are moving through a process of “becoming” where time is not some distinct thing that can be chopped into increments – there really is no time between our drops of time.
So Harmony and I – and everyone – are continuously in this process of becoming and becoming and becoming. We and our minds are always in the flow of experience. I can’t speak for Harmony, but I know for myself that I can be distracted and allow my attention to drift into thoughts about past events and dreams about the future. In such moments, although I am physically “in the now” my mind is not. That’s not to imply that there’s anything right or wrong about thinking about the past or future. Sometimes reflecting on earlier periods or planning for upcoming activities is necessary. Yet, my experience is that during such drops of experience there is less soaking up of the magnificent physical sensations and situation through which I am flowing.
As we sat by the lake today and bathed in the glorious experience, it is my belief that Harmony and I were maximizing the experiential potential latent in those series of moments. Our senses were filled to the brim, our awareness was on heightened alert, we were feeling deep appreciation for the flow.
These moments do not have to be ones out of our ordinary day-to-day experience in order to felt with such deep passion. Each drop of experience as the potential to shift us from the mundane to the ecstatic. Each of us has the ability to consciously shift towards a profound sense of appreciation for the current experiences we are flowing through.
As you finish reading this – look up – look around and notice, really and completely notice your environment and what is occurring nearby. See the potential within this flow of moments to be one of the best streams of consciousness that you’ve ever experienced. You really do have the ability to maximize your drops of experience.